A federal judge requested Thursday for attorneys representing the city of Semmes to provide legal proof on whether the International Building Code applies to the regulation of an oil pipeline.The request, by Chief U.S. District Judge William Steele, was made following a nearly three hour hearing into whether city ordinances adopted by the Semmes City Council are valid in giving the city authority to issue land disturbance permits.Steele said he will make a public ruling on Tuesday into Plains Southcap's requests to stop Semmes from blocking the construction of the Gulf Coast pipeline. The nearly $120 million project from the company's Ten Mile facility in Mobile County to Pascagoula, Miss., requires construction through tracts of Semmes property. The city has since issued "stop work" orders over concerns about construction site-related issues.
But attorney Ken Hitson, representing the city of Semmes, also requested the judge to consider whether the International Building Code was an applicable source in the regulation of the controversial crude oil pipeline under construction within the city's limits.The introduction of the building code into the lawsuit was a last-minute issue presented into a case that could determine whether the pipeline's construction can continue on 57 tracts of city property."I really thought we were going to be hearing something than what I heard today," Steele said. "We've evolved into the International Building Code."
Also at issue is whether Semmes' Feb. 19 ordinance addressing land disturbance permits were written correctly. The city was incorporated about two years ago.During the hearing, former long-time Mobile Assistant Attorney Wanda Cochran testified that she felt the Semmes ordinance was invalid. She said, among other things, that it was not properly coded as required by state law and that it was adopted without a proper second reading by the Semmes City Council.Semmes' legal staff, though, introduced a 2012 ordinance they felt was similar to the Feb. 19 ordinance and that both are applicable with the distribution of land disturbance permits. The permits were needed to be acquired by Plains Southcap in order to build the pipeline on city property.
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